Research says St. Louis residents affected by secret military experiments

Claims have surfaced that during the 1950s and the 1960s the United States military conducted secret experiments on St. Louis residents, which may have exposed them to radioactive compounds, KSDK reported.

Professor Lisa Martino-Taylor, a sociologist at St. Louis Community College, has spent years investigating the Army-conducted experiments and she finally made her research public today.

Her research shows the government sprayed zinc cadmium sulfide over thousands of St. Louis residents without their knowledge. The question is whether or not the Army added radioactive material to that mixture as well.

Martino-Taylor’s answer is yes.

“The study was secretive for a reason,” she said. “They didn’t have volunteers stepping up and saying yeah, I’ll breathe zinc cadmium sulfide with radioactive particles.”

Uncovered photographs show that the Army put chemical sprayers on the roofs of buildings like schools and public housing complexes. They also placed them in station wagons for mobile spraying.

Martino-Taylor said the experiment disproportionately affected low-income and minority households. The spray was highly concentrated in the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex, where about 10,000 low-income residents lived. She estimated  70 percent were children under age 12.

Martino-Taylor first became interested in the research after hearing about independent reports of cancer from residents living in those areas.

Documents show the Army conducted its experiments under the guise of testing smoke screens that could be used in the Cold War to protect cities from a Russian attack.

“It was pretty shocking. The level of duplicity and secrecy. Clearly they went to great lengths to deceive people,” Martino-Taylor said.

She spent her time digging up military documents that were once classified and they confirmed that city officials did not know the true nature of the experiments.

“This was a violation of all medical ethics, all international codes, and the military’s own policy at that time,” she said.

The Army has insisted the chemical compound it sprayed was safe, but Martino-Taylor still disagrees.

“There is a lot of evidence that shows people in St. Louis and the city, in particular minority communities, were subjected to military testing that was connected to a larger radiological weapons testing project,” she said.

In her research, Martino-Taylor tied a defunct company named US Radium to the military tests. The company is known for lawsuits involving its workers getting radioactive contamination.

The Army admits it added a florescent substance to the compound, but it remains quiet on whether or not that substance was radioactive.

Other uncovered documents suggest the Army didn’t conduct follow-up studies to monitor the health effects of the issue.

Professor Martino-Taylor’s findings have prompted Missouri lawmakers to take another look at the Army experiments.

“I share and understand the renewed anxiety of members of the of the St. Louis communities that were exposed to the spraying of (the chemicals) as part of Army tests during the Cold War,” Senator Claire McCaskill wrote in a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh.

“The impacted communities were not informed of the tests at the time and are reasonably anxious about the long term health impacts the test may have had on those exposed to the airborne chemicals,” she added.

Senator Roy Blunt was also concerned about the results of the research.

“The idea that thousands of Missourians were unwillingly exposed to harmful materials in order to determine their health effects is absolutely shocking,” he said. “It should come as no surprise that these individuals and their families are demanding answers of government officials.”

Click here to read Martino-Taylor’s research.

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